Shasta recently tossed The Equuschick a copy of American Soldier with instructions to “Read it!”
The Equuschick is not sure of his precise intentions when he tossed it to her and she wasn’t going to read it because it isn’t Her Thing, but then she thought that since she was married to a man who had a first-hand experience in the initial invasion of Iraq she might do him the courtesy of reading some official literature on the subject.
She also found that many military maxims are quite applicable to The Equuschick’s current occupation as well. Her personal favorite?
“No battle plan survives initial contact with the enemy.” Ain’t that the truth? And what a delightful way of saying “The schedule is Plan B.” (Or C. Or D. And etc.)
But we must make plans anyway, yes. To have a plan and be prepared to adapt is to practice flexibility. To have no plan at all is chaos.
The Dread Pirate Grasshopper had outgrown the splendiferous Noah’s Ark chore set the DHM made him and the whole family was in need of a wee bit structure in the mornings.
Why? Well, see. That is a good question. And one The Equuschick asked herself frequently because when it comes to routines (especially in the morning) The Equuschick lacked a certain amount of conviction.
In the end she concluded that sometimes routines in life serve the same purpose that scales play in music practice.
In and of themselves, scales are not particularly inspiring melodies. But their purpose is not to inspire imagination, their purpose is to strengthen the fingers and teach the timing. You are not making music, you are practicing the skills.
In the same way, perhaps, these little routines in life can serve the same purpose. In and themselves they may not illuminate the day or inspire our souls, but we’re learning the timing and strengthening the muscles. If you wanna make the music, you have to learn to play the scales.
So The Equuschick spent a good deal of time looking into different ideas for chore charts, then remembered that her husband and son were Crayon Artists Extraordinaires.
And Oh, what happened? First this!
And then this.
And then THIS!
(Yes, The Equuschick has her children chanting “CHORES ARE FUN! CHORES ARE FUN!” The Ladybug however, like her mother before her, is impervious to propaganda. Can you tell?)
Shasta and The Equuschick implemented their Battle Plan a week ago today and so far, so good. She will keep you posted on their progress.
And lest you be completely intimidated by such a professional-looking and regimented set of routine charts (haha!) please note that there are no actual times written down anywhere. There are simply things that happen in the morning, the afternoon, and before bedtime, and then one specific chore for each day of the week that The Equuschick tries to have herself, the Ladybug, and the Dread Pirate Grasshopper all do together. (The Ladybug was going to inherit the DPG’s old Noah’s Ark one, but if she has to do chores at all, she wants to do the big people stuff.)
You will also note that the first thing that happens in the morning is that Music is Played. But this isn’t actually the first thing that happens in the morning. What this means is that, the DPG and the Ladybug get up at their usual time and start their usual destruction, and when The Equuschick stumbles out of bed she makes her coffee and drinks it and yawns while she stares blearily at the wall. When she is done with this reflective and energizing process, she starts a Morning CD, and when the music starts that is when the small people know the morning has really begun and it is time to pick up the toys and brush teeth and get dressed and make beds, all in the name of Civilization.
A final note on picking up the toys: The Equuschick’s oldest is only 4, and this particular battle plan (as has been noted) is only a week old, so The Equuschick hesitates to give advice. But there is in fact one aspect of this new routine that has been unofficially in place for two years and has served its purpose well enough for her to feel confident recommending it.
No, it is not “Pick up all the toys as soon as you’re done with them.” This is a good thing to do too, if you can enforce it without becoming a nervous wreck. The Equuschick can’t. She’s tried, and she cannot keep on top of toys being put away as soon as a child is done with them, all the time, without feeling like she’s waiting for a bomb to go off.
Although lately, she has wondered if what Cleanies mean when they say “Put stuff back as soon as you’re done with it” is not so much “Pick up every toy off the floor and put it away the very minute that you’re done with it”, as “Pick up between natural transitions?” You know, stuff like, “Before you go outside, put away inside toys.” “Before you start playing the board game, put away the legos?”
(Except of course the lego sculptures already assembled, because EVERYONE knows that to dismantle a child’s lego creation without his permission is the height of disrespect. This is a truth that transcends the Cleanies and the Messies.) She has tried this too, and it is easier than having to keep a constant lookout for toys that have been left out. But she still needs extra help.
And the back-up plan is, have scheduled times of picking up throughout the day. The scheduled time is important if you have Littles and/or OCD types. Schedule your clutter patrols, so your small and/or OCD people expect it and don’t freak out every time you holler “CLUTTER PATROL!”
And the most important part is, if you are a Messy and you have Littles? Always, always, do this, no matter how bad the mess is. Have a bare minimum and stick to it.
For the past two years, before naps and before bedtime, the Scheduled Minimum Clutter Patrol means that every person must pick up and put away five things.
If you’re a messy (and The Equuschick is so messy she’s famous in the neighborhood for having a bird build a nest in her bookshelf once), you are probably either laughing or crying right now because All Messies Know That Five Things Won’t Make a Dent. (The Equuschick suspects that a great deal of the communication gap that exists between the Cleanies and the Messies is party due to the fact that most Cleanies are not aware of just how deep of a mess the Messies are already in. Basic swimming tips don’t help a drowning person.) But the minimum amount actually serves two very productive purposes.
For one, it helps a small person to practice their scales. And for another, it has an exponential result. The Equuschick didn’t notice this until a couple months ago.
If The Equuschick, the Ladybug, and the Dread Pirate Grasshopper all pick up five things 2x a day, that’s 30 things a day. At the end of a 5 day week, that’s 150 things that have been picked up and put away.
So no, you might not be exactly playing Mozart’s Turkish March yet. But nobody who sits down at a piano for the first time will have a clue how to play anything yet, and they don’t get to start with Mozart’s Turkish March either. But if we practice Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, there’s still hope for the future.